Drive Practice w/o a Robot

Hey, first time driver here! I’m the back up driver on our drive team this year and I need a bit more experience. Our main team gets a majority of the practice time with the robot so I wanted to see if there was a way to practice driving when the robot isn’t available. (We use a joystick to drive w/ both arcade and curvature turning). Thanks!!

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Driving a radio controlled car can help with general hand/eye coordination. One important thing with driving is just getting the hang of imagining yourself inside the robot/car/whatever. You need to get beyond “oh wait, it’s pointing towards me, so right stick moves left” to a state where you just drive towards some point on the field without having to think about it.


Obviously you can’t drive without a robot

What you can do is work out optimum movements by using game pieces and yourself on a marked out field…this is exactly what First Game Designers do to design the game humans act like robots and move game pieces with their hands.

By mentally preparing yourself for gameplay movements the driving part will be easier. If your team has an older bot practice with that one to get the controls down

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You also could also install an FRC simulator. I know Autodesk Synthesis has this year’s field and some past robots that you could play with. There also was a sim for last year’s game. You wouldn’t really be able to practice game pieces or any specific mechanisms but you could practice the hand eye coordination of just driving.


While not directly related, here’s a story about a backup operator who had to drive for eliminations at champs and made it to Einstein, and how he practices without the robot.


That’s actually super helpful, thanks! I’m thinking of making a non-functional joystick to practice with (I don’t have access to any joystick at the moment) and I’ll post the results of that and it’s design when it’s finished. Thanks again!!!

The Autodesk Synthesis simulator is a great tool if you don’t have a second robot to train with, especially if you have a complete 3D model of your robot.

The field, this year, however, has a few limitations:

  1. Hatch Panels cannot be spawned the way they should at the Loading Station;
  2. Hatch Panels don’t stick, so they will fall off when placed on a compartment and, obviously will not hold Cargo in place in the compartment;
  3. it’s not possible to attach Null Hatch Panels;
  4. it’s not possible to pre-load game pieces;
  5. because of a defect in how the field was exported, it is not possible to drive off the 2nd Hab level.

Some of the disadvantages above can be circumvented for one who is familiar with the Field Exporter, available with the Autodesk Synthesis source code.
For example, I was able to re-define the Hab in the Field Exporter so that a correct simulation of the Level 2 Hab platform is generated and a robot can successfully drive off it. I was also able to redefine the Hatch Panel model so that it spawns in the proper orientation at the Loading Station. But that level of expertise requires some hands-on time to master and some knowledge of how Unity, the game development environment used to develop the simulator, is really usefull.


The problem is that you need to get feedback on what your muscle actions cause. Without some kind of feedback, it’s just exercise.

I disagree: imagination can give you feedback, aka image training. It’s not as good as actual practice, with a simulation or real robot, but it’s better than nothing. Imagining driving the robot will at least help you get into the headspace of a driver, and a dummy joystick can make getting there easier.

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